Gastrointestial Tract/Stasis

Gastrointestinal Hypomotility/Stasis (Rabbits, Guinea Pigs & Chinchillas)

A syndrome characterized by the loss of gastric and intestinal motility and results in development of a large dehydrated mass of food within the stomach. Symptoms result from a combination between pain, stress, disease, poor diet and inadequate husbandry.

In most cases, a diet consisting of high levels of carbohydrates (pellets) and lacking adequate fiber (hay) appears to be the major contributing factor in the development of gastrointestinal disease. In the past the presence of a trichobezar (hairball) was believed to be the underlying cause, but it is now thought that the “hairball” results from the lack of food intake and is not the direct cause.

Most rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas in stasis have a history of not eating (anorexia) along with a significant decrease in fecal output. Reduced water consumption, abdominal discomfort, and varying degrees of activity levels may also be noted. In most cases, a presumptive diagnosis is made upon response to therapy.

Medical management consisting of analgesia (pain management), stress reduction, rehydration of both the patient and the stomach contents, and stimulating gastrointestinal motility. The patient should be placed in a warm (many animals become hypothermic), dark and quiet environment away from loud noises. Most animals will respond to therapy within 3-5 days and may begin eating within 24-48 hours. Patients that fail to respond to medical management must be re-evaluated and concurrent disease processes considered. Prognosis in patients that fail to respond to medical management of gastrointestinal stasis is gaurded.

Fecal Output/Production

GastrointestinalRabbits, Guinea Pigs, and Chinchillas excrete a hard, round and fibrous fecal pellet. It is important to make note of the normal fecal output/production for your animal. Fecal output is directly related to food intake. Therefore, a decrease in size and quantity can be indicative of a decreased appetite and the onset of a gastrointestinal stasis.